Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 1 Summary of Promising Practices - 1995

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Promising Practices

Changing the structure of the school day, week, or year to extend learning opportunities requires firm commitments from administrators, educators, students, and families to work together. The promising practices described here specifically address students' needs; they promote high academic and behavioral standards and cultivate links between the student and the world beyond the classroom.

Key Features Of Successful Extended-Time Practices

Successful practices share several key features:

In 1990, the Socorro (Texas) Independent School District began using year-round education with intersession programs to improve academic achievement and serve a rapidly increasing student population. Intersessions currently focus on tutoring, acceleration rather than remediation, and academic enrichment activities that use thematic, whole-language approaches. A mathematics component uses board games, slates, hands-on manipulatives, and problem solving through descriptive story problems that emphasize higher-order thinking skills. Each school has a team of teachers, parents, community members, administrators, and students that determines how intersessions can help meet the school's goals. Intersessions also give teachers a chance to experiment with new instructional methods, such as cooperative learning.

An average of 33 percent and as many as 70 percent of all students participate in the intersessions. In 1993, 74 percent of the district's third-graders showed mastery on the state writing test, compared with 68 percent of the students statewide. In mathematics, 88 percent of the district students showed mastery, compared with 85 percent statewide. "We are one of the only school districts with these demographics that has scored above the state average. We see that as an indicator that we are doing something right," the assistant superintendent says. Since year-round schedules with intersessions began in Socorro, the school failure rate and discipline referrals for middle school students have been cut in half.

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